Robert Stinnett, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, discusses how FDR provoked and allowed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in order to rally the American people to support US entry in WWII; the provocative McCollum memo that proposed an 8-part strategy to isolate and weaken Japan; new evidence that shows Admiral Kimmel was indeed privy to FDR’s plans; and how — despite what some skeptics say — the Japanese naval and diplomatic codes were broken before the Pearl Harbor attack.
Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome to the show. Back to it, I should say. It’s Pearl Harbor Day so it’s time to speak again with Robert Stinnett. He’s a historian and fellow at The Independent Institute. He’s the author of the biography George Bush: His World War II Years — that’s George H.W. Bush, of course, his World War II years — and he’s the author of the book Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. And I would like to recommend that you just put ‘Day of Deceit’ into your search engine and somewhere on that first page you’ll find an entry that I wrote five years ago at the blog at antiwar.com, and the reason I’d especially like you to look at that is because at the very bottom is a link to The Independent Institute’s Pearl Harbor resources page, and on that page you can be directed to just about every good piece of journalism, every good essay ever written, as well as a lot of primary sources as well. Again, the book is Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. Welcome to the show, Robert. How are you doing?
Robert Stinnett: I’m doing fine. Thank you for inviting me.
Scott Horton: I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. So I guess first of all we need to start out a little bit with your motivation here. I should have added in your introduction there, and I forgot to say, you’re a veteran of the Pacific war. You are a U.S. Navy veteran from World War II. Isn’t that right?
Robert Stinnett: Yeah, that’s right. I was aboard the Pacific Fleet carriers.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And I think you’ve told me since 2003 or 2004 when we first spoke that you think that the setup, basically the blind eye turned to the approaching attack on Pearl Harbor, the case for which you’ve proved beyond any shadow of a doubt, in my opinion, in your book Day of Deceit, was actually justified, that you still believe that the war in Europe was so necessary that what FDR did at Pearl Harbor was tough but it’s what he had to do. Is that right?
Robert Stinnett: Well, that’s right. He provoked Japan into attacking us so that we could really get back at Hitler. It was a backdoor approach to war.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. But you approve of that backdoor approach.
Robert Stinnett: Well, I don’t know what other option he had. The option was to either do that or not, and what would have happened if Hitler had conquered the whole world?
Scott Horton: Now, the reason I wanted to focus on that at the beginning is because this time of year there are essays published in newspapers all over the place and the narrative goes that the only people who think this are crusty old right-wing demagogue types who just hate FDR and they push this myth of his treason just because they hate him, not because they think it’s really true. And so it seems important to me that, you know, not only do you support it, but you actually fought in the war, in the Navy, in the Pacific in World War II, in the war that was caused by this blind eye being turned. You had to make your own sacrifices for this, and you’re the furthest thing from some crusty old FDR hater. You’re just a historian and the facts are the facts. There’s no ulterior motive or negative motive to tarnish FDR’s legacy or anything else behind your work here, correct?
Robert Stinnett: That’s right. I — President Roosevelt was the first president I voted for.
Scott Horton: All right. So now that we have that out of the way, how are you so certain, Mr. Stinnett, that FDR knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming, that he had deliberately provoked it, and that he turned a blind eye and let it occur —
Robert Stinnett: Because in —
Scott Horton: — without adequate warning to the commanders in Hawaii?
Robert Stinnett: Because in October 8th, 1940 — this is 14 months before Pearl Harbor — he adopted a U.S. Navy plan to provoke Japan into attacking us at Pearl Harbor, and there were eight provocations to be aimed at Japan, including sending U.S. cruiser task forces into Japanese territory, keeping the fleet based in Hawaii so it would be a lure to Japan, and instituted embargoes of oil, natural resources and so forth to really cut off Japan’s access to war activities.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. You’re speaking of the McCollum memo.
Robert Stinnett: That’s right.
Scott Horton: Now can you tell us who was McCollum, and are you certain that FDR in doing these policies was actually reading from this McCollum list of what is to be done?
Robert Stinnett: Yes. Arthur McCollum was a Lieutenant Commander, and he was head of the Far East desk of the U.S. Navy in 1940 and ’41, and he came up with this plan to get in through the back door because Japan, Italy and Germany had signed a Tripartite Treaty that they would come to one another’s aid if they were attacked by another nation, so this was the plan.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And then I believe you write in the book that there’s really very little question that Franklin Roosevelt actually followed this plan, A through H, step by step.
Robert Stinnett: Well, that’s right. He was Commander in Chief of the U.S. Navy as well as the Army and the Marines, and he sent American cruisers into Japanese territory to really tick off the Japanese war powers.
Scott Horton: And now part of this actually was to send submarines to the coast right off of Tokyo and to surface, basically to intimidate the Japanese as well.
Robert Stinnett: I have no records that he sent submarines. He sent cruiser divisions, which one of the task forces ran into the mouth of the Inland Sea in Japan. They were caught by Japanese forces there and they retreated. But they also went into the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Now, we all learned as little kids that the Americans just hadn’t broken the codes or not enough of the codes and that FDR could not have known that the ships were actually on their way to Pearl Harbor. Is that not correct?
Robert Stinnett: The U.S. Navy started breaking the Japanese naval code. People get confused. There were two codes. One was a diplomatic code and the other is the navy code, and we had broke, we admitted breaking the diplomatic code but not the navy code.
Scott Horton: Right, but then what you found out, and I think you told me before, this is what got you interested in this story is that this is what you’d been told, that they had broken the diplomatic but not the military code —
Robert Stinnett: That is right.
Scott Horton: — and that when you found out that in fact the navy codes had been broken, that was what set you on this path to write this book back in the early 1980s, correct?
Robert Stinnett: That is right. I had to get the documentation and it was very difficult at the time because there was a huge cover-up to keep this from the American public, and the world, for that matter, that we had broken the Japanese naval codes.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now I believe you write in your book, sir, that Admiral Kimmel and General Short, I think they were the commanders in charge there in Hawaii, and I think you say that the men who were actually decrypting, men and women actually decrypting the military codes, were beneath Admiral Kimmel and yet — they were under his authority, and yet he was cut out of the loop, that their information was going to Washington D.C. but it was not coming back to the highest levels of naval command in Hawaii. Is that correct?
Robert Stinnett: That’s what I learned in the 1980s, but I’m getting new information now that President Roosevelt called Admiral Kimmel to the Oval Office in June 1941 and apparently told him about this, because Admiral Kimmel was claiming he was not getting information. But neither the White House or Admiral Kimmel or his family have released information on that.
Scott Horton: Mmm! Okay. Well, that’s a very interesting point, a great place to pick it up on the other side of this break, whether Kimmel was in on this with Franklin Roosevelt to turn that blind eye at Pearl Harbor 69 years ago today. It’s Robert Stinnett, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. We’ll be right back on Antiwar Radio.
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Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio on the Liberty Radio Network. We’re talking with Robert Stinnett, fellow at The Independent Institute, that’s independent.org, where you can find the Pearl Harbor archive, and he’s the author of the book Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. And when we had to go out to break there, Robert, you were saying that new information would tend to indicate that FDR had shared the truth of the existence of the naval codes with Admiral Kimmel.
Robert Stinnett: Well, Admiral Kimmel was protesting to Washington from his Pearl Harbor headquarters that he was not getting the information, so he was recalled to Washington, met with the president in the Oval Office in June 1941, and had a two-hour meeting with him. And then after that he never protested again, though claiming post war that he did not get any information, but he was getting information by Joseph Rochefort, who was the chief cryptographer for the Pacific Fleet in 1941.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. So is it now your understanding then, or your belief, that Admiral Kimmel also turned a blind eye along with Franklin Roosevelt?
Robert Stinnett: I think that Roosevelt probably convinced him that it was necessary to make the Pacific Fleet a lure to Japan as it was to end the isolation movement in this country so he could really get to war with Germany. That’s what he wanted to do.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. All right, now, I have Time magazine, they’ve really put almost their entire archive, perhaps their entire archive online, and this article is from April 1st, although it’s no fool’s joke, 1946: ‘National Affairs: Pearl Harbor: Henry Stimson’s View,’ and it’s excerpts from Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s diary, and he writes here that the president, November 25th, 1941: ‘The president brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked, perhaps as soon as next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was, what should we do? The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.’ So, I guess you could spin this, Mr. Stinnett, I think, as saying, ‘Well they didn’t want to send the fleet out to meet them on the high seas because then it would look like we were the bad guys. We had to let them go ahead and knock us one really hard on the chin or else we’d have been the aggressor.’ Although it seems like if they’re in the ocean on their way, clearly on their way to Hawaii, an American territory at that point, I almost wonder why do you think that they thought it was necessary to actually let the attack take place in such a devastating fashion? Surely if they had been, you know, a few miles out from Pearl Harbor or within airplane range of Pearl Harbor with their aircraft carriers and our navy had met them on the high seas then, that could have been a defensive maneuver, right?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, that is correct. However, the president wanted such a dastardly act that it would really cause the American people to be so outraged that they would work for war, and that’s what happened. Americans — the attacks took place on December 7th. The next day Americans by the millions flocked to join the military units like the Navy, the Army and the Marine Corps.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, now, so, at the time that this happened, George Marshall was the Secretary of War, right?
Robert Stinnett: George Marshall was Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
Scott Horton: Right. Right. Okay. I’m sorry. I always get that mixed up, who —
Robert Stinnett: Yeah.
Scott Horton: He became the Secretary of War later, and then —
Robert Stinnett: Secretary of State, as I recall.
Scott Horton: — he became Secretary of State, right?
Robert Stinnett: Yeah.
Scott Horton: Uh huh. Under Truman. All right, I’m sorry. I wasn’t around back then. It’s harder for me to remember than it is — (laughs)
Robert Stinnett: I understand.
Scott Horton: All right.
Robert Stinnett: So we are on November 28th that you mentioned, that was the day that Roosevelt sent out an order to all the Pacific commanders to stand aside and let Japan commit the first overt act. He told them specifically, ‘Don’t go on the offensive. Remain in a defensive mode.’ And the commanders in the Philippines and Pearl Harbor acknowledged that they would do that.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, now, FDR’s defenders say, ‘Well, maybe he had reason to suspect an attack was coming somewhere sometime, but he thought it was going to be at the Philippines and that’s why he was taken by surprise when they attacked Hawaii.’
Robert Stinnett: Well, we had 25 monitor stations in the Pacific Basin, from San Diego to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and down the China coast between Singapore, and these were monitoring the Japanese navy away force. And the commander broke radio silence, he did not have radio silence, and was heard by the monitor station. And so President Roosevelt declared the North Pacific vacant sea and ordered all warships out of the North Pacific, except of course the Japanese. They had free rein to attack Hawaii.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Now I learned as a child that it was a lucky coincidence that the newest and best American ships, the aircraft carriers and so forth, were out at sea that day and it was basically the old junk from World War I sitting in Pearl Harbor. Are you telling me that that wasn’t a lucky coincidence?
Robert Stinnett: That was, that’s exactly what happened. Our carriers and air forces were — which were the most modern vessels in the Navy — were sent out of Pearl Harbor ostensibly to deliver warplanes to Midway. One of the task forces just sailed around Hawaii. One force did deliver 12 planes to Midway Island. But it was an excuse to get our most modern ships out of Pearl Harbor, so the targets for the Japanese were the old battleships of World War I.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now I mentioned that I wrote a blog five years ago at antiwar.com/blog called ‘Day of Deceit’ that is a write-up about your book and links to important footnotes, especially the Pearl Harbor archive at independent.org. But it also includes a letter that I got from Patrick D. Weadon, curator of the National Cryptologic Museum, disputing your claim, and he says that your book is, quote, ‘based on faulty evidence.’ He says that you claim ‘that the Allies broke the top Japanese naval code (JN25) prior to December 7th 1941. This is nonsense. Small parts of JN25 were cracked in the early 40s but JN25-B (the upgraded code which was used by the Japanese Navy in the days and months leading up to Pearl Harbor) was not cracked until the spring of 1942.’
Robert Stinnett: No, that’s not true. First of all, the Japanese called their naval operations code Code Book D. We called it the Five Number Code. This was in 1941 and 1942. We never called it JN25. That was a phony excuse that was, is a cover-up that was issued after the surrender in August 1945. So there was never any JN25 except in the fertile minds of the cover-up artists.
Scott Horton: I see. And yes you say that in your response in this old blog entry that Mr. Weadon is relying on 1950 information for his observations, and if I remember right, Strom Thurmond in the U.S. Senate held hearings in 1995 about Pearl Harbor, but the real sweet stuff, the final case proven, was released to you under the Freedom of Information Act in 1999, right?
Robert Stinnett: Yes. That is correct. The Japanese name for it — this is important for your listeners to know — was Code Book D, and we called it the Five Number Code in 1941. And that’s the one that we broke, not JN25. That’s just a phony baloney.
Scott Horton: Yeah. A red herring.
Robert Stinnett: Red herring.
Scott Horton: Yeah. All right. So, everyone, again, it’s Robert Stinnett. The book is called Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. You can find numerous links at independent.org. If you just do search site independent.org Pearl Harbor, you’ll find a hundred entries. He’s got an article at antiwar.com about it. You can read John T. Flynn’s old essay about it, and lots of great resources, the case proved, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, and it includes this pseudocriticism from the curator of the National Cryptologic Museum and as well as Robert Stinnett’s response. So I highly encourage all of you to read all of that and, and from now on, yeah, be suspicious about surprise attacks, you know? This is the way our government operates. They’re willing to turn a blind eye and let us be hurt by the thousands in order that they may carry out broader agendas. The ends justify the means. And there’s reason for us to be vigilant in our critical thinking to prevent being taken by such schemes, it would seem to me. I want to thank you very much for your time on the show today, Mr. Stinnett. I hope we get a few more books sold and a few more minds woken up to these facts. Thank you very much.
Robert Stinnett: Very interesting talking with you. Thank you so much.
Scott Horton: That is Robert Stinnett from The Independent Institute, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor.